Johnny Depp's former assistant claims Amber Heard subjected actor to 'years of abuse'

13 July 2020, 14:48

Actress Amber Heard arrives at the High Court in London for a hearing in Johnny Depp's libel case
Actress Amber Heard arrives at the High Court in London for a hearing in Johnny Depp's libel case. Picture: PA

By Matt Drake

Johnny Depp's ex-wife Amber Heard was the "abuser" in their marriage, the actor's former personal assistant has claimed.

Stephen Deuters alleged that Ms Heard, 34, subjected Mr Depp, 57, to "years of abuse", and said he was "extremely surprised and outraged" when it became public that she had filed for a temporary restraining order against the Hollywood star.

The claims emerged on the final day of Johnny Depp's evidence after the actor launched legal action against The Sun publisher News Group Newspapers and its executive editor Dan Wootton over an article in April 2018 which labelled him a 'wife beater'.

In his written witness statement, Mr Deuters, who is now European president of Mr Depp's production company, Infinitum Nihil, said he was with the couple "very regularly" throughout their relationship, and did not see any injuries on Ms Heard, or hear her mention that she had been the victim of abuse.

Mr Deuters was giving evidence on Monday in his employer's libel trial against The Sun newspaper over an April 2018 article which labelled Mr Depp a "wife beater".

In his written statement, Mr Deuters said that, during the period in which Mr Depp is alleged to have been abusive, he saw Ms Heard "on many occasions".

"At no point did Ms Heard ever mention any physical abuse and I never saw evidence of any injury to Ms Heard," he claimed.

Johnny Depp is suing The Sun's publisher, News Group Newspapers, over a 2018 article in which he was accused of being violent towards his ex-wife Amber Heard
Johnny Depp is suing The Sun's publisher, News Group Newspapers, over a 2018 article in which he was accused of being violent towards his ex-wife Amber Heard. Picture: PA

Mr Deuters went on to say: "In contrast, Mr Depp told me on multiple occasions that Ms Heard had attacked him or abused him physically and verbally."

He alleged that the first time Ms Heard made an allegation of physical abuse against Mr Depp was when she filed for a temporary restraining order (TRO) in 2016.

He said: "In relation to the TRO, I, along with many others, was extremely surprised and outraged when this hit the press. I knew that Ms Heard was the abuser in the relationship and I was appalled that she would behave in this way."

Mr Deuters claimed Ms Heard "had subjected Mr Depp to years of abuse".

In his witness statement, Mr Deuters referred to a number of alleged incidents of domestic violence, all of which Mr Depp denies, which News Group Newspapers (NGN), publisher of The Sun, is relying on in its defence against the actor's libel claim.

Mr Deuters said he was on a flight with the couple from Boston to Los Angeles in May 2014, when it is alleged Mr Depp was abusive towards Ms Heard.

Mr Deuters claimed that Ms Heard was "speaking at Mr Depp in an increasingly aggressive manner whilst he was focused on his notebooks, within which he often wrote or drew when flying".

He said: "At this point, I had my headphones on so I could not hear the specifics of what she was saying but I could see her gesticulating and I could tell from her manner that her voice was raised.

"She continued to harangue Mr Depp, whereas he did not engage with the abuse he was receiving."

Mr Deuters said that, at one point, Mr Depp "made a playful attempt to tap her (Ms Heard) on the bottom", adding that he did not believe that Mr Depp made contact with her.

He said: "Ms Heard took great offence at what was clearly a harmless gesture and increased her abuse of Mr Depp in an extremely unpleasant manner."

Mr Deuters went on to say that he, and Mr Depp's former private security guard, Jerry Judge, "decided to intervene in order to attempt to calm down Ms Heard", with Mr Judge taking her aside.

"I believe I spoke briefly to Mr Depp and he then retreated to the bathroom of the plane where he remained for the rest of the flight.

"This was a common theme on the multiple times when Mr Depp was abused by Ms Heard - he would take himself away from the situation, often to a bathroom, and lock himself out harm's way."

Mr Deuters said that the day after the flight, Mr Depp asked him to "mollify" Ms Heard
Mr Deuters said that the day after the flight, Mr Depp asked him to "mollify" Ms Heard. Picture: Getty

Mr Deuters said that the day after the flight, Mr Depp asked him to "mollify" Ms Heard and "to say whatever was needed to try and placate her".

"Given Ms Heard's extremely volatile nature, I thought it best to try to engage with her on her own terms and simply apologise for what she was alleging had happened; hence my use of the word 'kicked', which is the word which Ms Heard herself had used.

"As I have made clear, Mr Depp had not kicked Ms Heard."

Mr Deuters also gave evidence on the couple's trip to Australia in March 2015, during which it is alleged Mr Depp assaulted Ms Heard and "completely destroyed" a house in a drink- and drug-fuelled rage, which the actor denies.

Mr Depp's finger was severed during the trip, and he alleges it was caused by Ms Heard throwing a vodka bottle at him, which she denies.

Mr Deuters said he was not present when the injury occurred, and he saw Mr Depp when the actor was taken to a hotel by his security team.

He claimed that, the following day, Mr Depp told him and two others "he had sustained his injury when Ms Heard had thrown a bottle at him which smashed on his hand".

Mr Deuters also said that Mr Depp "did not want to cause alarm by letting the true cause of his injuries be known" and they were "instructed to say that Mr Depp had caught his finger in a door."

According to Mr Deuters' statement, he has worked for Mr Depp since 2004.

Johnny Depp accused Amber Heard of hitting him with a “haymaker” punch during an altercation near the end of their volatile marriage
Johnny Depp accused Amber Heard of hitting him with a “haymaker” punch during an altercation near the end of their volatile marriage. Picture: PA

The front desk supervisor at Mr Depp's LA penthouse building also gave evidence that she saw "no visible injuries whatsoever to Ms Heard's face" three days after Mr Depp allegedly hit his ex-wife in the face with her own mobile phone on May 21 2016.

Trinity Esparza said the first time she saw any marks on Ms Heard's face that week was on May 27, the day the Aquaman actress appeared in court to obtain a restraining order against Mr Depp, which "disturbed" Ms Esparza.

Ms Esparza, who owns the company that provided concierge services at the Eastern Columbia building where Mr Depp previously owned five apartments, said in her witness statement that she "saw and interacted with Ms Heard on May 23, May 24 and May 25 with a clear and unmarked face".

Sasha Wass QC, representing NGN, said to Ms Esparza: "Isn't it more accurate to say you saw her earlier in the week and you didn't notice it?"

Ms Esparza replied: "That is not accurate, I saw her very clearly."

Ms Esparza also told the court that she saw "a number of marks on Ms Heard's body" - including bruises on her neck, plasters on her arm and a mark below her left eye - on a day in June or July 2016, shortly after Tesla founder Elon Musk left the building at around 9am looking "like he had just woken up with messy hair".

Mr Depp is suing NGN and its executive editor Dan Wootton over the publication of an article on April 27 2018 with the headline: "Gone Potty: How can JK Rowling be 'genuinely happy' casting wife beater Johnny Depp in the new Fantastic Beasts film?"

NGN is defending the article as true, and says Mr Depp was "controlling and verbally and physically abusive towards Ms Heard, particularly when he was under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs".

On Tuesday, the court is due to hear evidence from Malcolm Connolly, part of Mr Depp's security team; Tara Roberts, the property manager at Mr Depp's Bahamas home; Ms Heard's assistant Savannah McMillan; and Hilda Vargas, Mr Depp's housekeeper at his LA properties.

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